Drug Abuse Resistance Education + Play and Learn Under Supervision (DARE + PLUS) is an enhanced curriculum for middle and late elementary school students. Its primary goal is the same as the well-known DARE program: preventing teen drug use by applying the same principles taught in DARE, but updated for a slightly older audience. As with DARE, DARE + PLUS concentrates on building students’ refusal skills and teaches them ways to avoid peer pressure and how to cope with life stresses—two areas thought to be linked to early drug use. DARE + PLUS’s secondary goal is to reduce aggression and violence. Classroom instruction addresses how to refuse drugs and how to avoid violent situations. DARE + PLUS also provides alternative activities through clubs/classes such as the arts, sports and tutoring.
DARE + PLUS targets junior-high/middle and late elementary school students. This population can be slightly older than those who typically receive DARE. As such, the lessons and program delivery differ. It is believed that children at this age may already have experimented with or been using drugs. Thus, the lessons address the dangers of drug use differently than in the core curriculum delivered to elementary students and often focus on team building, positive alternatives and good decision-making.
DARE + PLUS is divided into three program components. The first component is a program called “On the VERGE.” This is a four-session program implemented by trained teachers, with a session given every week. Classroom activities concentrate on influences and refusal skills related to peers, social groups, media and advertising, and role models. On the VERGE comes with a teen magazine, VERGE, which is tailored to middle school youths and includes homework assignments and other activities to be done with their parents.
The second component of DARE + PLUS involves more extracurricular activities for adolescents. Youth action teams are created, and students must decide which activities they want to take part in after school. Once a consensus is reached, community organizers are brought in to work with the youth action teams on the activities.
The last segment of DARE + PLUS incorporates neighborhood action teams. Similar to the youth action teams, neighborhood action teams consist of groups of students and a community leader, who work together to solve neighborhood issues related to drug use and violent behavior.
Quite different from the core DARE curriculum, these last two components help adolescents become good citizens and more involved in their neighborhoods. There are 10 total sessions, one each week, delivered by trained DARE officers. These officers have received the same extensive 80-hour training required for DARE instructors and must have taught at least two semesters of DARE before they can teach DARE + PLUS.
As DARE + PLUS is an extension and enhancement of the DARE core curriculum, it is built and operates on the same theory of social influences. DARE + PLUS uses the same psychosocial approach to build children’s refusal skills and general social competencies to combat peer pressure and other societal influences to try and to continue using drugs. The program also works to build students’ self-esteem and helps students develop resilient personalities.
13 to 18
At baseline there were no significant differences among the three groups. At the two-year follow-up, Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)–only schools compared with the delayed program/comparison schools also showed no significant difference. However, boys in Drug Abuse Resistance Education + Play and Learn Under Supervision (DARE + PLUS) schools were less likely than comparison schools to show increases in alcohol and tobacco use in the past year or month compared with the delayed program schools. DARE + PLUS boys were also less likely to show increases in current smoking or multidrug use and behaviors than control school boys (Perry et al. 2003).
Girls in DARE + PLUS schools were less likely to report increases in ever having been drunk compared with girls in the DARE–only schools. There were no other differences among girls across the different intervention conditions.
DARE + PLUS school children also reported less violent behavior and intentions than those in the delayed-program schools. Boys in DARE + PLUS schools were also less likely to report an increase in normative estimates of drug use, expectations of drug use, and violence, when compared with boys in the delayed-program schools.
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